Viva La Vegan!
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- 06 November 2014
Phil Letten is an experienced animal advocate and leading fitness coach. He has completed 9 nationwide tours on behalf of the nation’s foremost animal protection organizations including Mercy For Animals, Vegan Outreach, and the Humane League. And has been featured on hundreds of mainstream media outlets all across the U.S. Having been immersed in the fitness industry for over 8 years he has had the opportunity to help countless people reach their fitness goals.
How and why did you decide to become a vegan?
I am opposed to animal abuse. Meat producers confine animals in cages so small they can barely move, mutilate them without painkillers, and brutally slaughter them. I want no part in that.
How long have you been vegan?
I stopped eating meat 10 years ago, and went vegan 7 years ago.
What has benefited you the most from being a vegan?
I know that I’m not paying others to abuse and exploit animals for profit.
What does veganism mean to you?
To me veganism means doing your best to lessen the amount of suffering in the world.
What sort of training do you do?
I primarily focus on big compound lifts such as the dead lift, squats, presses, rows etc. For conditioning, I enjoy doing sprints and circuit-style training.
How often do you (need to) train?
I think it varies by person. The minimum I allow myself to train is 3 times per week. 4 times per week is the norm. When I get crazy, I up it to 5 or 6 days per week.
Do you offer your fitness or training services to others?
My brother and I are the head coaches over at VeganBros.com where we are raising up an army of fit, sexy vegan soldiers to spread the delicious, cruelty-free Gospel of peace and compassion to a lost and dying world.
What sports do you play?
When I was younger, I did everything from soccer, baseball, and basketball to snowboarding and skateboarding. Although I’m not nearly as competitive as I was when I was younger, I still enjoy playing various sports on community leagues.
Strengths, Weaknesses & Outside Influences
What do you think is the biggest misconception about vegans and how do you address this?
The obvious is that you can’t build muscle etc. My least favorite misconception is that we are all angry. I address this by being positive and happy. Yes, there is a lot of suffering in the world. If we let this cause us to be angry, then we are just adding to the amount of misery in the world. When we are joyful, people not only want to be around us, but they are more likely to want to be like us as well.
What are you strengths as a vegan athlete?
Although I only weigh 167 pounds, I can dead lift 455 pounds.
What is your biggest challenge?
There are no specific crazy challenges that I can think of.
Are the non-vegans in your industry supportive or not?
More and more professional athletes are going vegan everyday, proving that you can be vegan and an elite athlete at the same time. We are reaching a point where it is hard to be successful in this industry if you are still saying, “You can’t be vegan and an athlete at the same time.”
Are your family and friends supportive of your vegan lifestyle?
Definitely. Since going vegan, I’ve seen my brother, mom, and dad go vegan as well as aunts, uncles, cousins, and even my grandparents have begun dabbling in it. I’ve seen so many friends go vegan. I love it!
What is the most common question/comment that people ask/say when they find out that you are a vegan and how do you respond?
“Where do you get your protein?” From vegan meats, beans, nuts, seeds, kale, spinach, and protein powder.
Who or what motivates you?
The animals are my main motivation, they need me to counter the stereotype of what a vegan looks like.
Food & Supplements
What do you eat for:
Breakfast - Super Shake with berries, banana, kale, nuts, steel cut oats, protein powder, and greens+.
Lunch - Stir-fry with various veggies, yams, tofu or some sort of vegan meat, and quinoa.
Dinner - Salad loaded with veggies, spinach, tofu, and quinoa.
What is your favourite source of:
Protein - Any of the vegan meats.
Calcium - Kale.
Iron - Spinach.
What foods give you the most energy?
Quinoa, brown rice and sweet potatoes.
Do you take any supplements?
I take protein powder, carob powder, creatine, greens+, and B-12.
What is your top tip for gaining muscle, losing weight, maintaining weight, improving metabolism and toning up?
My advice for all of these is to not transform your diet overnight, but rather focus on one habit at a time for 1-2 weeks. Once you have mastered the habit, move onto the next habit. Such as eating protein with every meal, or eating 5 servings of vegetables per day.
How do you promote veganism in your daily life?
I am not preachy about it in normal life. I only talk about it when asked. I am also involved in activism as well, though. I worked for Vegan Outreach and Mercy For Animals in the past and have volunteered extensively with the Humane League and HSUS-Farm Animal department. One activity I do a lot is leafleting on college campuses to educate the kids on the horrific cruelties involved in factory farming. I am consistently amazed at how effective this is.
My brother and I have also recently started Veg Connect, a new way for vegans, vegetarians, and those interested in meatless eating to come together, hang out, and plan world domination. Our first event sold out of all 70 tickets in less than 4-days. And, we’ve got big plans for the future of it.
How would you suggest people get involved with what you do?
Head to our website and download our free eBook titled Top 6 Mistakes Preventing You From Losing Belly Fat.
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